JAKE Kean has thanked the Hartlepool United faithful for their support and has vowed to join them in cheering on his former team-mates.
The 19-year-old goalkeeper returned to Blackburn Rovers last week after a hugely-successful four-month loan spell at Victoria Park.
And such is Kean’s feeling for the club and its fan he got in touch with SportMail over the weekend to deliver a special thank you message to the Poolie following.
“It’s been the best part of my career without a doubt and a lot of that is down to the fans,” he said.
“From my first game they were brilliant with me and that helps so much when you’re a young player.
“It’s strange when you’re thrust from just training and playing reserve games into being a club’s regular keeper.
“All of a sudden people knew who I was when I was out and about and in and around the club and that was fantastic – it gives you a whole different perspective on being a footballer.
“My mum and dad have been to every game and they’ve loved it too.
“I’d just like to thank the fans, the people at the club and especially Mick Wadsworth and Gary Walsh for having faith in me.”
Indeed, it was goalkeeping coach Walsh, having worked with Kean at Derby County, who recommended the rookie stopper to the Pools boss.
Kean initially arrived with a view to playing second fiddle to Scott Flinders, but when he suffered thumb ligament damage the loanee gloveman was thrown his professional debut at Brentford.
The Derby-born star responded with a clean sheet during a goalless draw and went on to record a further 10 shutouts.
And Kean added: “I never expected to play a game really, let alone 25.
“To keep clean sheets in 10 of those is amazing really – although it wasn’t all down to me, I think Sam Collins and Peter Hartley might have something to do with it as well!
“But all of the lads were tremendous with me.
“Working with Gary every day as well as brought me on as a keeper and I can’t thank him enough for suggesting my name to the manager.
“I feel I’ve improved as a player and a person by being here and it really has been an amazing experience which I’ll never forget.”
Kean will resume training with Premier League Rovers this morning, but says he’ll be following events back at The Vic between now and the end of the season.
“The Pools result will be the first one I check for,” he said,
“They’re in a good position now but there’s still a long way to go this season.
“I’m sure the lads can pick up again and get back up towards the playoffs.
“I’ll definitely be coming back up to cheer them on.”